February 12. The day had arrived. The Northern Regional Finals for Poetry Out Loud were here, and we couldn’t have been more excited. This year being Grace’s first time ever participating in such an event, we were pleased just to be there. Catherine, Israel and I arrived early to find that the opening activities were for reciters only, so Israel and I left Catherine with the other contestants and filled our time exploring the downtown area of Bangor.
Our first stop was the Friar’s Bakehouse, which happened to be closed, so we headed over to Bagel Central. The offerings were incredible and we had a nice lunch, including pickles. I cannot now recall the significance, but Israel had fond memories of pickles :).
After lunch, a rock shop caught our eye and we went in to explore. What a treat! It was a rock shop AND a museum of preserved insects, snakes, and more. Here are a few photos of our little adventure.
After this short excursion, we headed back to Hampden Academy, where we met several Grace families who had come out to show their support. As we took our seats, we were entertained with the wonderful sounds of music by Hampden Academy’s Jazz Band, the R&B Project. Their renditions of Frank Sinatra tunes were my favorite.
As the judges took their places, a hush came over the entire audience as the reciters entered the hall. With minimal introduction, we were down to business. One by one, each reciter was called to the large stage and with just a small rug and a microphone for company. Round one…round two … then intermission. Catherine’s chosen poems for these two rounds were “Barter” by Sara Teasdale and “Idea 20: An evil spirit, your beauty, haunts me still” by Michael Drayton. During the intermission, Catherine was able to visit with all of us in the audience. As you can see, we have one proud mama.
After the break, the moderator (Maine’s Teacher of the Year-Kaitlin Young) announced the names of the top ten students who would continue on to the third round. Grace Academy supporters went wild when she called…Catherine Durant! We were so proud of Catherine; she had done a fantastic job of reciting her first 2 poems and, let me tell you, her third poem, “Aria” by David Barber, was recited flawlessly. However, given the stiff competition from all the other talented young people, after Round 3, Catherine was not chosen for a spot in the coveted top 5, who would move on to the statewide competition. But she will be attending as a member of the audience in preparation for next year. The statewide competition will be held on Wednesday, March 14th at the Waterville Opera House.